ITC Judge Recommends General Exclusion Order for Canon Gear Patents

The ITC judge overseeing Canon’s complaint regarding toner cartridge gears has recommended a general exclusion order (GEO) to ban the importation of products that violate Canon’s U.S. patents 5,903,803 (‘803) and 6,128,454 (‘454).

When it filed complaints against several companies, Canon requested the so-called 337 investigation in January 2012. The judge’s recommendation follows the IT’Cs investigation into the infringement of two patents by various third-party suppliers.

The ‘803 and ‘454 patents cover the unique design of a twisted prism shaped coupling used on most Canon and HP toner cartridges. The gear is mounted on the end of a shaft which rotates the cartridge’s imaging drum. Canon claims the unique twisted prism shape allows the cartridge to: be easily inserted into or removed from a printer, helps synchronize the rotation of the drum with the printer’s drive motor during the imaging process, and prevents the drum from slipping. To the best of our knowledge, these claims have not been confirmed or verified by laboratory tests or comparisons.

Despite the court’s recommendation, the ITC has not yet issue the GEO. Before the GEO is issued, the commissioners will review the judge’s initial determination and decide if they agree with it. Because the ITC is part of the executive branch of the government, the GEO also requires the approval of the President of the United States.

The text of the ITC’s short notice reads as follows:

“On this date, the administrative law judge issued an initial determination that Canon’s Motion No. 829-45 for summary determination of violation of section 337 by the defaulting respondents is granted. Further, it was recommended, among other things, that the Commission issue a general exclusion order.”

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